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  • Scarlett Westbrook UKSCN

The Current Education System Must Be Reformed

Earlier this week I was in Brussels, visiting the European Parliament as part of a trip organised by my MEP, Ellie Chowns. Whilst I was there, I had the pleasure of attending a session run by a civil servant about how the European parliament operates and the like, and he remarked on how he often encountered british visitors to have much less knowledge of political affairs than citizens of other countries, pointing out that in his experience French school children could easily distinguish the different parts of the EU, however British university students would not be able to do such a thing and this applied to the majority of our group. Now, there are a variety of reasons for this, and an incredibly large factor is the education system in the UK. The education system is utterly complicit in enabling our children and students to enter the adult world without an adequate understanding of the way the world is structured. Whilst politics may be brushed upon, I personally don’t recall any education on the structure of the EU, and as for our own government in school we have only had the odd assembly to delve into current affairs. Our education system needs to be reformed in order to ensure that students are adequately equipped to enter their adult lives with the skills and knowledge to deal with our current volatile political climate and so that we have a resilient society that can deal with the consequences of the inevitable effects of climate change. Being the youngest person in the world to have an A level Government and Politics, a qualification which I achieved alongside my regular school studies, I got to see the failures and gaps of what we are taught in school thanks to the sharp juxtaposition of our vague PSHCE curriculum and the a level course. Now, I am not saying that we need to make A Level GovPol compulsory, but all students must have a base level knowledge of how the world around them works. The school system must adapt to fit itself around developing free, independent thinking, resilient individuals rather than what feels like robots designed for institutional testing. We need to teach students about the structure of our parliament, the disastrous effects of climate change, their rights and simply what is happening in their world. I probably won’t ever have to multiply surds again after my exams in the summer but schools still force that knowledge through the curriculum. Entire ecosystems are collapsing, but it’s ok? Set notation will solve it right? We have only 11 years before the effects of climate change become irreversible yet this statistic was not taught in my GCSE Geography lessons. How are we going to expect to deal with the biggest crisis known to man when the most basic educational establishments are failing to deliver the necessary education to their students? The reason I interwine politics and the climate crisis is simple, by definition, politics is the process by which conflict is resolved and this is the biggest conflict we have ever encountered. At the same time, we must give credit to the hundreds of thousands of people who have endeavoured to educatethemselves on the climate crisis and current affairs, despite the failure of our education system. In this day and age where information is so widely available, there is no excuse for schoolsto not deliver this information to all, for not everyone will have the privilege or capacity to seek out this idiosyncratic knowledge themselves. Our current education system is not sustainable and must be changed. With the changes, we also need to make sure that our teachers are adequately trained in order for them to deliver this education. We are acutely aware of the immense strain on teaching staff so we must make sure that with the addition of these crucial life skills they are supplied with all of the tools needed to support them and their students in delivering these lessons. We don’t have time to kick the can down the road anymore. It is time for action.

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